When Men in Blue Meet Women of Color
Black Women’s Blueprint
A National Black feminist organization is utilizing civil and human rights approaches. Founded in 2010, the group engages in research, documentation and advocacy on social justice. A report they recently issued has raised awareness and concern; not just in the black community, but across racial lines.
The idea that the cops are the good guys is pervasive — except in communities of color.
The report is a witness to that dichotomy.
Sandra Bland Wasn’t the First
What makes a woman commit suicide. Why would a woman move to 150 miles from her home to Texas to begin a new job if she would just turn around in and commit suicide a few days later?
Those are questions that were raised when Sandra Bland was found in her cell — dead.
Those are enigmas for which family, friends, and activists are still seeking the answers.
The public consciousness has rolled on to other things: Trump’s nomination, the race for the White House, mass murder in Orlando and most have forgotten the name Bland if they ever knew it.
New information may be available which could not only explain what happened to Ms bland, but what happens to the hundreds of black women in America who each year come into contact with the police and police brutality.
Shootings like in Augusta, South Carolina make the news. The trial of law enforcement officers involved with TK’s death is still going on, and the cops thought responsible are being released and acquitted one at at time.
What doesn’t make the news are the Sandra Blands and women like her.
Sandra Bland’s case is unique in that she is known. In 2015, the African American Policy Forum released a report shedding women who have been murdered by police.
“When you challenge people to identify victims of police cruelty, nobody will give you a female’s name,” says Kimberle Williams Crenshaw, a professor at Columbia Law School who -co-authored the report.
Black women’s stories have been ignored. That’s a failure of media coverage. The greatest way to fight that is by releasing some of their accounts.
On Valentine’s Day, 2015, Maleatra Montanez, 40 and a mother of two, called local law enforcement to report her missing daughter.
After inappropriate comments about her body, Thompson ordered Montanez to get a condom. While raping the woman, Thompson demanded his victim look at her newborn son — who was lying just a few feet away.
Once Thompson finished, he talked about his wife and children and asked if Montanez would report him.
After receiving treatment at a local Syracuse hospital, Montanez did report him. Thompson pleaded guilty at trial to two counts of having sex on duty. He was convicted and given three years probation and fired.
Prosecutor Jeremy Cali said a police officer cannot be charged unless the victim was in custody at the time of the assault.
Montanez lodged a $7 million suit against Thompson and Syracuse.
In May 2016, Montanez’s lawsuit went to trial. Nick Wooldridge – a leading Las Vegas defense lawyer – will continue to monitor the case.
Charnesia Corley was going to the store to get medicine for her ailing mother in June 2015 when she was stopped by law enforcement for supposedly running a stop sign. Within minutes, a traffic stop morphed into a nightmare.
A spokesperson for the Harris County Sheriff’s Department said the deputy who had pulled Corley over ordered her to step out of the vehicle because he assumed he sniffed marijuana.
Nothing illegal was found during the following search, but the cop was n’t done. He “knew” the story about the mother’s medicine was a lie and Corley had to be smuggling marijuana and placed her in the back seat of his squad car.
The deputy conducted a body cavity search on the roadside. The deputy ordered Corley to pull her pants down despite Corley’s protests that she wasn’t wearing underwear.
“That doesn’t matter. Pull your pants down,” said the deputy.
As Corley didn’t respond quick enough, she was charged with resisting arrest.
Corley has retained an attorney and will be filing a civil lawsuit.
The concept of the Strong Black Woman who can endure anything goes back in history to the days of slavery. Like the myth of “Mammy”, the myth is dehumanizing. The myth’s impact is seen even when it comes from the police.
There is no doubt that Black men in America have obstacles, but Black women face the same racism with the added load of misogyny. When talk turns to police brutality in America, 20 percent of the unarmed people of color killed by police have been women according to the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund.
Americans tend to ignore Black female victims and the violence they meet. Police brutality against women of color is more apt to be sexual abuse that doesn’t occur where evidence is easy to collect.
It’s rare for these cases to get national attention.
Daniel Holtzclaw‘s case isn’t an anomaly as most white Americans would think.; sexual violence is the second most frequent complaint made against police according to the 2010 Cato Institute’s police study http://www.policemisconduct.net/statistics/2010-annual-report/
Even the American government has failed. The government has never collected statistics — that meant anything — about Black female victims of police brutality. If a case fails to draw media attention, police have no duty to report their misbehavior to an outside agency. Internal investigations often “fail to find” the officers culpable — no matter what crime they may have done.
Because of a combination of sexism and a version in white American culture to recognizing that Black women can be, victimized leaves another myth: only Black men are at risk.
What Police Do You Call on the Police?
In Oklahoma, Daniel Holtzclaw was sentenced to 263 years in prison. Holtzclaw sexually assaulted 18 women — while in uniform and on duty.
After the initial news stories had appeared, the case evaporated from memory and was consumed by movements like #BlackLivesMatter.
Holtzclaw, 28, was an Oklahoma City cop. He was also a sexual predator and his victims ranged from 17 to 57, and all but one were black females.
Selected because they were black and poor, the perpetrator thought no one would care. He was wrong. Forty-eight hours after the jury began deliberating the city experienced an increasing unease about the likelihood of a not-guilty decision.
Some of Holtzclaw’s victims testified that the officer violated them in their own homes — while wearing his uniform.
One woman said that Holtzclaw ran her name and came across an active warrant. He took her to an empty school and raped her.
Another victim said he forced to perform sex acts along the roadside.
Another was sexually attacked while still handcuffed to a hospital bed.
The youngest victim, a 17-year old who was raped on her mother’s front porch asked the packed courtroom:
“What sort of police do you call on the police?”
The Power of The State Stands Behind Law Enforcement — Too Often
Video makes it easier to focus on law enforcement’s use of weapons images of shootings make news and provoke a public response.
Despite that, there are videos of cops bashing women like Marlene Pinnock and pulling women like Denise Stewart, naked and exposed, from their homes.
Google “copy beats woman” and dozens of stories and images show up.
Although not all the victims are black, they frequently are people of color and often disabled, mentally ill or pregnant.
They are not a threat to an officer armed with a gun and backed by the power of the state.
Imagine what the national response wold be if a cop sexually assaulted 12 white, middle-class women and one underage girl — while on duty.
Stop for a moment and think deeply about that.
Too many people cannot imagine being in the same shoes as a Black female. We can’t see ourselves — or our daughters, our sisters or our mothers — living under the watchful eyes of the police.
We can’t image what its like to have no voice, and we can’t imagine ourselves black, poor and powerless.
Holtzclaw — and other cops like him — knew white America wouldn’t care.
That’s why they chose the victims they did.